The story of a homegrown, rice milling machinery brand; and other top SMB stories of the week

In 1995, Narender Kumar spent most of his time in his small workshop in the lanes of an industrial area in New Delhi. In the workshop, he built rice milling equipment and machines and sold them to small, home-grown millers.

His business, Sona Foods, steered clear of large millers that international rice milling machine brands such as Buhler catered to. This was because Buhler used advanced sheet-metal technology and laser cutting tools that were hard to come by.

Over the years, Narender and his son Vasu Naren have grown the business, now known as Sona Machinery, into a manufacturer, exporter, and supplier of milling equipment for rice processing, cleaning pulse-dal, wheat, sesame, millet, gram, lentils, maize, and corn with a specialty in rice milling machinery. Vasu, Director and CEO of the family business, says:

“We identified untapped markets in North India and have become a synonym for rice mill machinery manufacturing. Sona Machinery has around 7,000 installations across the country. We believe our market share is between 60 and 70 percent in India’s branded rice milling equipment market.”

Originally started in Switzerland in 2011, Fast&Up made its way to India in 2015 to cater to the sports nutrition market in India. In a span of a little over five years, the company now supplies to IPL, BCCI, Ranji Trophy Team, Pro Kabaddi League Team, and many more. It caters to around 1.5 million households across the country.

Fast&Up has 18 products right now, including Fast&Up Charge (Vitamin C immunity booster) and FastUp Reload (electrolytes), which continues to retain the highest demand. Apart from those, there are new segments like Fast&Up Terra (plant-based nutrition) that was launched in June 2020.

The brand has also forayed into kids nutrition and Fast&Up Plant Protein For Women. The brand followed the online route to reach its target customers and, at first, introduced the brand to the consumers through its website. Fast&Up’s online retail reaches over 40,000 pin codes and serves around 6,000 outlets offline.

In the late 90s, budding entrepreneur Nagaraj Krishnan saw that regulatory compliance was not a standalone, organised business offering provided by legal and HR services companies. He felt it was usually an add-on function provided by consultants unable to look at regulatory compliance in a holistic manner.

“During times of need, a company relied on local consultants such as retired government officials or chartered accountants who were piecemeal compliance providers. That’s why I set out to launch my own business for regulatory compliance and consulting services,” he says.

This led him to start Aparajitha Corporate Services Private Limited in Madurai in 2000 along with Bharat Krishna Sankar. Nagaraj, well-versed in labour and industrial laws, started providing services such as managing compliance risks, compliance programme reviews, internal audits, risk management, monitoring and measurements, etc., for SMEs and businesses of various sizes.

The company now records annual revenue of Rs 450 crore and has over 1,500 clients.

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